THE ISLAND OF FORMOSA.
THE crime of piracy, which seems to the English mind as obsolete as the passion of revenge, has been practised by the semi-savage tribes who inhabit the southern coast of the beautiful Island of Formosa ever since anything was known about it. Of late years, in addition to the long catalogue of authenti- cated instances of outrage and slaughter perpetrated by " the cannibals," as the Botans were (figuratively) called, such general suspicion existed respecting the fate of a multitude of ships that had disappeared in the vicinity, that the mercantile community regarded the passage of the east coast of Formosa as the most hazardous in the Eastern Seas. The tribes were equally hostile to strangers of every nationality, but they enjoyed more frequent opportunities of plundering and murdering Americans than others ; and the case of the ' Rover,' which was wrecked upon the Vele Rete rocks in 1867, and her captain, his wife, and the crew murdered by the Koalut tribe, with the exception of one Chinese sailor, who escaped to tell the tale, was the signal for the first attempt at suppressing these people, and the distant origin of the three-cornered quarrel which has ended in the withdrawal of the Japanese from Formosa, and the successful assertion of the ownership of the island by the Chinese. The immediate cause of the Japanese expedition was the murder of a number of shipwrecked Riu Kin islanders by the Botans in 1871, and the accounts of that expedition, of the conduct of the Japanese and Chinese Governments, and the intervention of English and American diplomacy in the matter, are so various and contradictory, that it is worth while to compare them, and see whether the Japanese have not been unhandsomely treated by the positive unfairness of public opinion, by the imputation of credit to the Chinese Government which they do not deserve, and the grudging spirit which has hindered an acknowledgment of the real elevation of the motives and ex- cellence of the conduct of the Japanese. The means of making such a comparison is to be found in the Blue-book series of Com- mercial Reports, from Her Majesty's Consuls in China (No. 5, 1875) for 1874, and in a narrative of the Japanese Expedition to Formosa, by Mr. House, recently published at Tokio (Yedo).
It is clear, from both these sources of information, that when the Riu Kiu islanders were murdered, China disclaimed all responsibility as regards the control of the savage tribes in the island, and that no opposition was offered on the arrival of the Japanese Expedition to punish them. The Chinese saluted the invaders, who thrashed the savages a few times, then made terms with them, and afterwards proceeded to make some explorations, to cut roads, and to offer sundry opportunities for civilisation to the tribes of southern Formosa. General Saigo, a very en- lightened man, who comes out in a most interesting light during the proceedings, even projected the establishment of a farm for the cultivation of plants hitherto unknown in the island ; he sent physicians to see after the health of the people, who were pro- foundly touched by that usually successful appeal to barbarism ; and he declared that so far from being actuated by motives of conquest —with which Japan was freely charged—the invading army he should like to introduce would be a corps of school-teachers, to redeem the savages from their utter ignorance. While the " Ex- pedition" in camp at Liangkiao was pursuing these objects, exploring trips, which had nothing to do with the expedition, and which extended to the Chinese settled districts as well as to the wild portions of the island, were going on, and the explorers would drop in at the camps on the coast and in the mountains and report progress. If the punishment which had been inflicted was to be effectual, if the terms which had been made with the murderous tribes were to be kept, it could only be by the estab- lishment of some sort of security against their lapse into their hereditary customs, which, again, could only be attained by the Japanese " occupation " for some time. They maintain and Mr. House declares that that occupation was without any ulterior motive whatsoever, and wholly unpolitical in its character. If the Chinese would assume the duties and accept the responsibilities of ownership, control the tribes, and insure positive security to strangers, the Japanese would be content ; but that the Chinese should claim to own the island, and leave all the south of it to constitute a terrific pirate-preserve, without either opposition or remonstrance, seemed too bad to be bearable to the go-ahead people whose commerce was endangered.
It is admitted by Her Majesty's Consul at Amoy that the Japanese had grounds for arguing that up to last year Chinese rule had not been established on the east and centre of the island ; that "the Chinese have till now (1874) been forbidden even to pass certain boundaries which defined aboriginal territory ; their officials have always declared that no protection would be afforded to persons travelling there ; no taxes were ever paid by the abori- gines to the Chinese, nor could they be exacted, and the east coast of Formosa did not even appear in the Chinese maps of the- island." Add to this internal condition of affairs the facts that, as regarded the coast tribes, " hardly a year passed without the record of a series of fresh outrages upon those whom the calami- ties of the ocean had cast among these aborigines ; mariners from nearly every civilised nation were known to have been either slaughtered straight, or to have perished from the inhuman treat- ment to which they were subjected ;" and a stronger case for the taking of a territory out of incompetent, or, at all events, reluc- tant hands, and putting it into efficient and zealous hands, could hardly be made out, even if the Japanese motives had been fairly susceptible of an interpretation in that direction, and Chinese proprietorship had been proved. The dog-in-a-manger policy of China is evident, on the showing of both the reports ; and that the. selfishness of England and America comes out very strongly in Mr- House's detailed account of the proceedings by which war is said to have been averted cannot be denied, even if it be disputed that " the after-thought of the assumption of Chinese authority over the whole island and people of Formosa was not even an after-thought of Chinese origin, but was prompted by foreign diplomatists,"—an assertion which Mr. House de- clares will be amply proved in time. In 1867, a propos of the case of the Rover,' the officers of the Fuchao Board of Trade wrote to the U. S. Consul that the Chinese would be obliged to• make reparation in all cases where outrages were committed in Chinese territory or Chinese waters, and added, " But, as in the Rover' case, the Americans were not murdered in Chinese territory or in Chinese seas, but in a region occupied by the savages, relief cannot be asked for them under the treaty. The savage territory does not come within the limits of our jurisdic- tion We believe those savages to be wild animals, with whom any one would disdain to contend." (That last is a fine sentence, considering what the "wild animals" had just been. doing,—to Americans.) Nothing could be more fair than that Japan should protest against Chinese interference with her action on the ground of ownership of southern Formosa, and few things. less honest than the English and American acquiescence in that pretension, when the Chinese required the Japanese to withdraw, and the situation became "strained" at Pekin. "A war way only averted at the last moment by Mr. Wade, H.B.M.'s Minister, who was asked to arbitrate between the two nations," says Mr. Consul Phillips ; but Mr. House explicitly denies that any such request was made to Mr. Wade, of whom he observes, "it does not appear that he was actuated at any time by a feeling hostile to. Japan, but neither is there the slightest evidence to show that he was moved by any impulse except the wish to swum
British trade from danger The Chinese authorities were not unwilling that be should be invited to undertake this duty (arbitration), but the Japanese Commissioner declined to subject- himself to any such influence, and this was a point which he never- would concede." Perhaps Mr. Wade's subsequent action (in the interest of the annual $250,000,000 which war would have endangered) was not exactly and formally arbitration ; but at all events, he negotiated the contract by which Okubo, the Japanese Commissioner, a very remarkable personage, whose individuality lends a dramatic touch to the story, undertook that the Japanese expedition—the pioneers of humanity and civilisation among the "wild animals" with whom the Chinese believed (in 1867) "any one would disdain to contend "—should be withdrawn. The terms were good for Japan, not only as preventing war (an even- tuality for which the people were preparing, with their usual active good-sense, ingenious fertility of resource, and practical patriotism), but as securing all the national objects the expedition had had in view. The articles of Agreement included an acknowledgment that the enterprise of Japan was a just and rightful one ; an in- demnity to the families of the shipwrecked and maltreated Japanese ; payment of expenses incurred in the house-building and road-making (" China wishing to have the use of these for herself," says the official document) ; and a promise made in these words :— " As to the savages, China engages to establish authority, and promises that navigators shall be protected from injury by them." Her responsibilities had been forced upon China in proportion to her own claims ; henceforth she must prevent what Japan had punished, or be held accountable for it, but to the latter must ever belong the credit and the praise of having driven her big rival into the ways of civilisation in this respect. The terms were bad for Formosa ; the island would have been well off if China and Japan had fought for it, and the fortune of war had given it to the Empire of the Rising Sun. General Saigo had no sooner departed, than the Chinese ordered the destruction of every vestige of Japanese occupation. The proposed lines of telegraph between the northern and southern portions of the island have been abandoned, and all attempts to control the " wild animals" or induce them to recognise Chinese rule have been ineffectual ; the aborigines steadily refuse to bind themselves by any pacific pledges, so far as the Chinese race is concerned. A small body of soldiers was sent to Hong Kang, near the former Japanese
campink-ground, where it was believed they would be safe, LETTERS TO THE EDITOR. with this result :—" In January, 1875, a couple of officers were waylaid and murdered in the usual manner. On Feb- (TO THE EDITOR OF THE SPECOTAT011.1
extend their sway over the inhabitants of aboriginal Formosa." fellow-citizens for common ends, especially those of education. Such a scene as the embarkation of the Japanese Expedition, after I need not say how completely this is changed. Irish Protestants, its six months' occupation, has rarely, if ever before, been witnessed. who are mostly utterly ignorant of the internal life of the Church The savages crowded the shore (watched by the Chinese-speaking of Rome, say that we have been deceived, and that the Roman natives), crying bitterly, uttering the wildest wrath against the Catholic professions of desire for equality and co-operation were
Chinese, clinging to the Japanese General and his staff, and even at never sincere. This, of course, is absurd,—an entire people the boats seizing their hands and their clothes, so that they had to cannot be consciously and successfully hypocritical. The change be detached by gentle force. The habitual reserve of the savage has come from Rome. An acute and impartial observer of politics vanished utterly before the grief of parting with the man who had said to me some years ago, "My belief is, that the Roman overcome their equally habitual mistrust. This Japanese General, Catholic bishops and clergy have got the :not d'ordre from Rome who softens and wins the hearts of the fiercest pirates in the to make themselves as disagreeable as they can to their Protestant world, is worthy of the sovereign who has revolutionised his fellow-subjects," and I think this was no exaggEration. The causes Empire, uprooted the oldest of religions, and imposed a of this change are, of course, beyond the control of the British new one, not only as an observance, but as a living creed, Government.
upon the briskest-minded, nimblest-fingered race in existence,— Another cause of Irish disaffection is, however, completely with all the Western activity of brain, untouched by the Western within control,—I mean the position of the teachers. The s3stem dread of death, and therefore, we may venture to think, with a future almost invulnerable by Fate.
The Island of Formosa is represented by all its explorers as utterly barbarous throughout, in every settlement, from north to south. The tribes know only the rudest methods of cultivation, the soil, which would grow anything (and does grow sugar-cane, which the natives do not use), producing only rice, tobacco, and potatoes. The descriptions of the people remind us of those of the Dyaks. The tribes do a good deal of " head-hunting," chiefly attempting to travel over the roads leading to the south going for Chinese crania, and adorning their villages profusely with dismal trophies of their prowess. There is an interesting variety in their styles of tattooing, but they all chew betel-nut, wrapped in leaves smeared with lime, with the usual horrid results, and they present generally a strange contrast to the beauty and peacefulness of their country. Hill and valley, wood and water, ravine and fertile plain, the deeply- indented rocky coast and the wide-spreading ocean, a glorious sky, and a climate in which heat is tempered day and night by a delicious, health-inspiring breeze,----such is the strong- hold of the pirates of Formosa. Animals are few there. The coast villagers imported some horses, but the mountain men captured and ate them. Several varieties of the water-buffalo, pigs, and dogs—which are utterly inhuman, and not to be enticed into companionship—exhaust the list. Reptiles abound—the chattering lizards are quite good company, only they sit up too late—and singing birds, making the mornings delightful with the merriest music, swarm, unharmed by boys or guns. Insects are large and lively—an eight-inch centipede up your coat-sleeve ceases to be a novelty in a day or so—but they are apparently harmless. The mountains and the great banyan trees are the grandest objects. The savages are rather a fine race, not in the least like Chinese ; generally tall, muscular, dark-complexioned, with fierce eyes and growling voices. They distend the lobes of their ears with shells, pieces of crystal, or heavy plates of silver. They are less cowardly than most savages, they are capable of discipline, they are accessible to sentiments of friendship and gratitude ; they use weapons skilfully, and no doubt might be taught to use tools by Japanese workmen ; they have by nature less of what our social system regards as immorality than the yellow races. On the whole, we are rather sorry for the savages of Formosa, and should be glad to see them counted among Lord Carnarvon's subjects.